Your Guide to Paint Touch-Ups
From sanding tips to the best brushes to use, two paint experts share their advice.
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Let's face it: Painted surfaces require touch-ups from time to time. "Over time, high-traffic areas that are subject to heavy wear, such as hallways, kid's rooms, and surfaces around light switches and knobs, will need to be refreshed with paint," explains Erika Woelfel, the Vice President of Color & Creative Service at Behr. "Paint touch-ups are commonly required when walls experience small damages such as nail holes, furniture rubs, or scuffs—and scratches from children and pets."
To determine whether or not a surface can simply be touched up with paint, Woelfel suggests first checking for areas that may have been missed in the original paint job or unsightly blemishes and stains that are difficult to remove by simply wiping them away. "The size and the number of areas that need to be spruced up will dictate whether a paint touch-up is the remedy," she explains. "If there are too many spots to smoothe over on a surface, it may be best to repaint the surface entirely." Stuck with a chipped, stained, or scratched surface in need of a paint refresh? We asked Woelfel, and Mike Mundwiller, the Field Integration Manager at Benjamin Moore, for advice about how to spruce up a small area with paint—and here's what they had to share.
Before you can properly touch up a surface with paint, Mundwiller says you'll need to determine whether or not the area requires sanding first. "Sanding should occur if there are imperfections in the surface," he explains. "However, bear in mind that any texture left on the surface, or created when touching up, can cause a halo effect that results in a noticeable fix. One tip for better touch-ups is that if you are spackling walls for repairs, it's best to sand that patch, prime, and then go in with the original paint."
Pick the right paint.
Since the point of a touch-up is to make a damaged area blend in with the original coating, both our experts say it's crucial to use the exact same paint color as before. "It is always best to touch up an area with leftover paint from when the original paint project was done," Mundwiller says. "Naturally flawless touch-ups need to be the same color and product from the same paint manufacturer, because not all manufacturers have the same sheen levels in their products. Also, be mindful of any texture differences between the touched up and original areas."
Use the same applicator.
Mundwiller recommends applying your paint with the exact same applicator that was used during the original job to help create consistency. "For example, if the surface was rolled, use a roller to touch up," he explains. "By using a brush when it was previously rolled, you may create a texture and thus have the halo effect." If the original coat of paint was sprayed on, Woelfel says going back in with a roller is preferable over a brush.
When applying your paint, Woelfel says it's smartest to use the same method as the original job, as well. "Apply the touch-up in the same manner in which the original paint was applied," she explains. Whether you're using a roller or brush, she suggests making vertical strokes and working slightly beyond the areas that need to be fixed to help the fresh paint blend in with the older coat. "Use the least amount of paint necessary to prevent excessive film buildup," she adds.
Avoid future touch-ups with careful cleaning.
Woelfel says maintaining and caring for painted surfaces over time is vital to extending the life of the color. "Removing dirt and stains from painted surfaces before they accumulate not only improves their appearance, but also reduces the chance of the dirt becoming permanently embedded in the paint film," she explains. "When washing painted surfaces, be gentle and use a mild soap solution and apply the lightest pressure necessary to avoid eroding or burnishing the paint."